How can I avoid loss of productivity from working from home?

How can I avoid loss of productivity from working from home?

As strategic workplace planners, we are getting questions coming in like ‘how can we do our best work while we are working from home?’

I’d like to draw your attention to a book called Atomic Habits, by James Clear. What’s really interesting about this, is how ‘environment has far more impact on your output than the motivation that you might have.’ You can watch lots of motivational videos, but you are still working from home. There are certain cues we get from home, & behaviours that we associate with home through repetition.

In Chapter 6 of James’ book about Atomic Habits, he refers to how motivation is overrated, and environment matters more. I’ll just read something out to you, on Page 83, James makes a comment:

‘…In 1936 psychologist Kurt Lewin wrote a simple equation that makes a powerful statement: Behaviour is a function of the Person in their Environment…’ (Page 83, Atomic Habits by James Clear)

It didn’t take long for this theory to be tested in business. It’s a really interesting book, and it covers lots of things around impulse buying, when we choose to have a drink, and what other triggers there are that dictate our behaviour.

One of the challenges people have today when working from home, is that the environmental structure of the workplace is not around them. The power, group, team, tribe feel in the workplace that produces the creative results, that produces the energy to take something forward proactively, and the idea of bouncing things off each other is dramatically reduced when you are in the home environment.

On page 87, James refers to:

‘..We mentally assign our habits to the locations in which they occur: the home, the office, they gym. Each location develops a connection to certain habits and routines.’ (Page 87, Atomic Habits by James Clear)

One of the challenges is thinking about how your work area, now that it is at home, is helping or hindering you from keeping productive. Once the joy of not having to commute is forgotten, the disadvantage of losing the social stimuli of others performing to the common goal like you would be in the workplace is realised.

How can you redesign your home office, which is now your workplace, to streamline productivity? Perhaps cues such as photos and mementos, things that make you long for a different time, should be removed from this immediate work environment in your home so that you only have the stimuli which makes you proactively pursue the common goal of your employment that you are blessed to have.

In James’ book he makes this remarkable statement:

‘…The most powerful of all human sensory abilities, however, is vision. The human body has about eleven million sensory receptors. Approximately ten million of those are dedicated to sight. Some experts estimate that half of the brain’s resources are used on vision… For this reason, a small change in what you can see can lead to a big shift in what you do…’ (Page 84, Atomic Habits by James Clear)

The challenges from working from home are extensive because what you can see is not in the context of your usual workspace.

I certainly recommend this book. This is a very relevant challenge, that environmental cues trigger activities, which in turn trigger outcomes. We don’t all possess the mental fortitude to be razor focused without an environment which accommodates for that, if the environment we are in isn’t what we are used to using the space for.

Certainly worth taking a look at this book, certainly worth making the changes, and think about how you can take control, so you can be productive in these challenging times working from home

Other videos in this series you may be interested in:

Why is now the perfect time to renovate my offices?

Did we apply workplace standards in line with social distancing prior to this pandemic? 

What popular design practices have been unwittingly contributing to the spread of infection?

How will social distancing impact our workplace in the future?

What are the positives we can learn from this pandemic?

What Ergonomic risks can I avoid from working from home?

Will the COVID-19 led ‘work from home’ culture mean I need a smaller office?